WIFC finally got back to winning ways this weekend with a convincing win against their counterparts from Coventry at the Bushey Met Police Club. Having made a few tactical changes at West Ham last weekend which went unrewarded, joint managers Chris Davis and Dave Messenger kept faith with the formation they’d tried in East London, and were handsomely rewarded with the best team performance of the season.
Things got off to an encouraging start as the midfield platform provided by Stuart Holdham and Panos Fellas gave a solid base, allowing the forward players to get onto the ball. Early reward came when some classic back-to-goal centre forward play from Chris Dew, making his first appearance of the season after a number of injuries, led to a lay-off which was thumped home by full-back Rob Stone for his first goal for the club.
Coventry struck back quickly and took advantage of a mix-up between Fellas and Matt Ainsley, which led to a break on goal with a man over. Ryan Harkin took the chance and duly leveled matters. However, WIFC were not be be denied and with the skiddy surface leading to a greasy ball, both teams were alert to the possibility of spilled shots. Dew took one such chance when the visiting keeper failed to hold a Dave Soloway drive to regain the lead.
Soloway himself added a 3rd when he converted Dew’s pass inside a visiting defender, his 6th goal in 6 appearances this season and there was also time before the break for a Holdham air-shot when well placed to score from a corner and a rasping drive from skipper Joel Moody, which the Coventry keeper acrobatically tipped over the bar.
The second half saw a number of changes but the team’s good performance continued. WIFC handed a debut to Andy Lewers and the young winger made an instant impact with a delightful curved pass into the path of the rampaging Dew, who took the ball into the area and capped a fine personal display with a clinical finish into the far corner. With Lewers and Richard Wenham to the fore, WIFC continued to create chances and it was no surprise when the evergreen Wenham slotted home a 5th.
Coventry’s young side, to their credit, never gave up and plugged away, striking the bar and forcing a great save from Jeremy Hinds. But the home defence, led superbly by Dan Willis and converted midfielder Stuart Nicholls, kept on top and restricted the Sky Blues to half chances beyond those, Nicholls earning the Van der Vaart’s empty budweiser bottle man of the match award in the process. WIFC still created further opportunities at the other end. Lewers and Wenham both saw good chances go begging before Moody collected another Lewers pass and capped his 150th appearance for the club with his 8th goal of the season to complete the scoring.
Delighted joint-boss Dave Messenger was full of praise for the side after the game. “I’m so pleased with the result, but moreso the performance. Credit to Coventry, their attitude was first class and while they’ve been on a good run, we’ve struggled since some good displays last September. So we asked our players to do things a little differently in the last two games and they’ve responded magnificently. We’ve now given ourselves a platform to finish the season strongly and with a London Cup Semi-Final to come next weekend, and Worldnet on the horizon, there is still lots to play for.”
Jeremy Hinds; Rob Stone, Dan Willis, Stuart Nicholls, Matt Ainsley; Richard Murphy, Stuart Holdham, Panos Fellas, Dave Soloway, Joel Moody; Chris Dew. Subs Phil McBride, Richard Wenham, Mark Brennan, Andy Lewers, Andy Myall.